Margaret Ellen Adams knitted hundreds of mittens and hats that she donated anonymously to the Preble Street Resource Center in Portland, which serves the area’s homeless population.

Mrs. Adams also donated her knitted clothing to churches throughout southern Maine. She often drove herself from Portland to churches, traveling as far as Bridgton to leave a donation behind. She loved to knit mittens, hats, scarves, afghans and blankets for babies.

“She always said these (the donations) are from my heart. I don’t want any credit for it,” said her son, Peter Adams of Hollis Center.

Mrs. Adams, a longtime resident of Edgewood Avenue in Portland, died Thursday at St. Joseph’s Manor, where she had been living for the past seven months. She was 85.

She was born in Hartford, Conn., and her family moved to Portland in the early 1940s.

She and her identical twin, Marjorie, were 15-year-old freshmen at Deering High School when their parents withdrew them from school and made them go to work so they could help support their family.

Mrs. Adams took jobs at McCullen’s 5 & 10 on Portland’s Congress Street, and at Standard Romper, a clothing store on Canco Road, and also worked in the telephone company’s cafeteria.

She married George Adams after he returned from serving in the Army during World War II, on June 14, 1947, at the Preble Street Church in Portland.

It was the beginning of a marriage that would span 65 years. Mrs. Adams is survived by her husband.

“Mom and Dad went everywhere together. They were inseparable,” Peter Adams said of his parents.

They remained active as a couple, even working for about 10 years together at Weight Watchers. Mrs. Adams would check people in to Weight Watchers and her husband weighed the clients.

They made an impression wherever they went.

“They created relationships. They were both incredibly involved spirits,” said their daughter-in-law, Lorrie Adams of Hollis Center.

“She always found the good in other people,” her son said.

He said his mother always felt she had to give back to the less fortunate.

He recalled one incident in which his parents drove by a homeless person in Portland who was shoeless. Mrs. Adams made her husband drive to a store and buy shoes for the person.

“She grew up in poverty,” her daughter-in-law said. “She knew what it was like to go without.”

Knitting was her true passion. She would typically knit about 180 clothing items at the start of each winter season.

“Her grandchildren would say that they would be watching (her knit) and all of sudden she would fall asleep, but her hands would still be going,” her son said.

Mrs. Adams decided at the age of 75 that she wanted to complete her high school education. She enrolled in Portland Adult Education and earned her GED.

“The day she received her diploma we were all sitting in the audience. It was a proud moment for her family,” Peter Adams said.

Mrs. Adams was a two-time breast cancer survivor. Her twin sister died in December 2011.

“She started to go downhill after her sister died,” her son said. “She would tell me we came into the world together and we were supposed to go out together.”

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

dhoey@pressherald.com